The opening of the stream trout season is set to be a cracker in the north of the State. Underrated for the quality of its trout, the New England area holds heaps of salmonoids of quality and in quantity.
A pretty mild Winter and continual stream flows mean that water levels will be at a premium. Winter never burnt hard and with the excellent Spring ground cover and early warming, I expect a plethora of insects.
Post-Winter trout are hungry fish and the early season is my favourite time to hunt them.
Before the Summer rains kick in the streams, particularly in the gorges, provide easy access and plenty of opportunity to attack each pool, where I focus a lot of my early-season angling.
There are a number of public access points in the Ebor area which allow you to head into the rough stuff. Ensure you are well prepared and carry warm gear; it takes a while before the sun gets down into the slots.
A study of some topographic maps will also uncover a bit of gorge country between Nundle and the Riamukka area. There are some good fish through here but they call for some footwork and commitment.
Good numbers of fish generally hole up in the pools below waterfalls. Here you will find success with medium diving lures or heavily weighted flies.
However, the tail out is the prime spot.
My favoured tactic is to cast well out into the hole, allow my offering to sink before the retrieve. Near the tail out, stop winding and raise the rod to bring your fly up the face, or allow the floating lure to rise.
You will get a hell of a lot of hits at the point where the imitation emerges from the gloom. Fish seem to follow the offering but often you’ll get a hit at the last minute so don’t be in a hurry to get your lure out of the water for the next cast.
Rapala CD minnows are terrific for this type of angling, or you can try a jig head with a marabou tail. Canny fly anglers have been ripping lips with marabou for years and the seductive wiggle of this material is a killer.
I far prefer natural materials to soft plastics on trout jigs; they scream ‘eat me’ even at rest on the bottom. You will, of course, have to raise the jig up the tail of the pool with your rod.
Away from the waterfalls, the butt kicking lures of choice at this time of year are slim, pencil-style minnows. Although I don’t do much lure fishing, my favourite is the Yo-Zuri Pin’s Minnow, a shallow running fry pattern with plenty of action and natural colour.
Drift the floating lure downstream under the overhanging brush and slowly work it back along the bank. You’ll get fish.
Fly tossers heading down Walcha way should be working weighted streamers in larger sizes. I prefer darker colours as I often fish throughout the day targeting areas of cover and shade. A slowly twitched Matuka or Bugger style pattern will draw attention.
In the faster and clearer Ebor streams I’d be dead-drifting larger than mid-season nymph patterns. This means caddis or mayfly imitations around size 10-12.
Czech nymphing strategies are every effective, working bigger weighted nymphs on a short line. Watch your tippet or strike indicator for the slightest pause in the drift and strike.
The key to early season touting is persistence. Be prepared for a big day and cover plenty of water thoroughly. Early season fish have not yet spread out through the system and tend to be holed up. Find one and you’ll no doubt find more.
You’ll generally be casting to hungry, undisturbed fish so choose mono line around 3kg or finer braid. Don’t be surprised to hook a good ’un early in the New England season. Plenty of anglers do – they just keep the secret to themselves.Reads: 1320